- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Kodansha Europe; New Ed edition (1 May 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 4770028024
- ISBN-13: 978-4770028020
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 1.5 x 13 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,082,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Making Sense of Japanese Paperback – 1 May 2002
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"Brief, wittily written essays that gamely attempt to explain some of the most frustrating hurdles [of Japanese]...It can be read and enjoyed by students at any level."
About the Author
Jay Rubin is a professor of Japanese literature at Harvard University, where he has employed the pedagogical techniques contained in Making Sense of Japanese "as infrequently as possible." He has authored Injurious to Public Morals: Writers and the Meiji State and Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words, edited Modern Japanese Writers, and translated Soseki Natsume's Sanshiro and The Miner and Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, and After the Quake (Knopf and Harvill, 2002).See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
The title pretty much sums it up when it says "What the Textbooks Don't Tell You." This book ! ! essentially takes the information from your textbooks and makes sense of it. If you study independently, like me, this book should be on your list. If you don't need this book, you probably know someone who does.
I bought this book before I was really ready for it: Rather than being designed to teach you Japanese it's more of a collection of essays on the nuances of some of the finer points of Japanese. These are points that learners transitioning between upper-elementary to intermediate Japanese might be puzzled by.
If you're around JLPT N3 level this book is for you. Expect it to clear some things up for you before you move on torwards advanced Japanese.
If you are at a lower level than that you may understand the book just fine, but it will be in one ear and out the other. You won't retain it. And if you're verging on upper-intermediate Japanese the points in this book are likely things you've already intuited and internalised from naturally absorbing the language.
I believe it to be worth the price for the discussion of the author's (massively illuminating to my poor mind) concept of the "zero pronoun" and its effect on the perennial problem of "wa" and "ga" alone. I can't think of any single work that has furthered my understanding of Japanese sentence structure more than this book. And on top of that, you could almost consider it to be the Japanese language study equivalent of "Chicken Soup For The Soul" (yes, I keep my copy in the bathroom). It may be a short work, but it's immensely re-readable - like those chicken bones, there always seems to be a little more goodness to be gotten out it.
I agree it's not for everyone, and it is to some extent academically controversial, but I think only the most rigid and conventional thinker could fail to gain something valuable from it.
While it is true this book is for all levels it may not be immidiatley useful to beginners who haven't grasped the Japanese way of thinking yet. I would recommend this book to anyone but only if you're reasonably sure of your Japanese ability.
For example, I believe someone looking to learn a few phrases of Japanese a few weeks before their first trip to Japan will most likley get next to nothing out of this book. Or similarly, someone who has just started learning Japanese may just be confused by this book. However, if you are comfortable with your Japanese speaking and you want to learn more, this book will give you an insight into the finer points of the language and will not only help you sound more fluent but it will give you a better idea of exactly what native Japanese speakers actually mean when speaking their own language.
I was a bit sceptical on receiving this, and quickly flicking through, seeing nothing but English text and the odd bit of Japanese in Romaji, I was ready to be disappointed.
But, if you sit down with a beverage and treat yourself to some quiet time with this book, you will be rewarded. A large chunk of the book is a discussion on Wa and Ga, and students of Japanese will know just how thorny those two can be. The explanation of these particles, their meaning, nuance, usage and the absence of pronouns in Japanese sentences is the best you will find anywhere, I think.
In spite of the Romaji examples, I don't believe this book is really aimed at complete beginners, and the author pretty much states that. If you have been studying Japanese for a while and are getting to the point where you are thinking about writing proper sentences in Japanese, or trying to read or hear real, live versions of the language, then this is a handy little guide written in plain, sensible English (unlike most Japanese grammar books).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book consists of a number of mostly self-contained essays just as written on the cover. Each topic covered is like a reminder for some pattern, that you learn intuitively but... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dmitriy Safonov
Excellent for clarifying common problems with the Japanese language, and written in a way that doesn't put you to sleep. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Michael Locke
this book told me so much more about the finer points of the Japanese language, I loved it, I was always saying "now I get it" brilliant book!Published on 23 Oct. 2014 by hayley
Interesting book. Very good. I doubt there's another with this material, and it's very well written and entertaining. Filler. Filler.Published on 19 Jan. 2014 by Amazon Customer
Great for those wishing the understand the language more deeply or go into translation. Breaks things down and gives examples. Lots of humour included!Published on 21 Nov. 2013 by MetaDiscipline
simple, straight to the point and light hearted. Doesn't spend chapters going into insignificant details about grammar points, at most he spends a few pages on them, but most of... Read morePublished on 18 Oct. 2013 by Amazon Customer
Bought this book hoping it would help put a few more pieces of the jigsaw together but to be honest it hasn't. Read morePublished on 11 Dec. 2011 by Paul Tolin
Let's face it, if you're reading this review, you're already learning japanese. Furthermore you're reading an english review of a book written in english. Read morePublished on 1 Oct. 2011 by Koen L.